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Specialized Allez Elite Red Hook review

10 Aug 2018

Page 1 of 2Specialized Allez Elite Red Hook review

Verdict:

An excellent bike that belies its low price tag; a machine capable of year round riding from sportives to long days out and even crit races

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
• Handles superbly • Looks great • Excellent value • Good for year round riding
Against 
• The brakes are not good and should be replaced with Shimano; possibly a 5* bike with proper callipers

Upon riding the Specialized Allez Elite it’s immediately obvious why it’s such a popular choice for new riders, crit racers and everyone in between. The bike is fast to accelerate, holds its speed with ease and handles in corners and on descents like a machine costing four times its sub-£1,000 pricetag.

Before getting further into the bike’s performance, its appearance deserves almost as much attention.

Kaleidoscopic colours

The Red Hook edition paint job catches the eye in a way few bikes I’ve ridden do.

In fact, this is the only bike I’ve ridden across London that has had other cycle-commuters break the usual rules of never daring to speak to one another, complimenting and enquiring about the bike and its pleasing decals.

Specialized makes track bikes with the pattern covering all available space, but this one is slightly less in your face, leaving a fair it of plain blue tubing on show.

The seat tube and fork are the most colourful parts of this frameset, along with the logo, giving the bike the appearance of having ridden head on into a rainbow of colours.

The fork

Following a product recall of the fork that had previously been specced on Specialized’s lower-end bikes, the Allez lines are now fitted with the FACT carbon set taken from the S-Works Tarmac SL5.

‘With regards the Allez fork recall, we have now completed our commitment and plan to replace first riders’ forks in the field, second our partner dealers’ stock, and then third our own stock,’ explains William Watt, Public Relations Specialist-Road at Specialized UK.

‘Our commitment to and investment in quality control at manufacturing and with our vendors remains as proactive and as thorough to ensure we best meet the demands of riders and make them product that delivers the best riding experience.

‘The fork sourced as replacement has been the S-Works Tarmac SL5 fork. This is of course a FACT carbon full monocoque fork that formed part of the Rider First Engineered.

‘The S-Works Tarmac SL5 was one of the first Specialized bikes to have development time in our “Win Tunnel”.’

After the inconvenience and perhaps even embarrassment of going through a product recall, Specialized has bounced back by supplying entry level bikes with an aero-optimised carbon fork usually found on much higher-end race bikes.

The fork itself does the expected job of carbon blades on the front of an aluminium frame, and that’s to soften the ride and increase rider comfort, which it does well.

Ridden around some beautiful but bumpy lanes in Somerset and Devon on a trip in late-Spring, comfort was never in question from any part of the bike.

Frame and ride quality

As touched upon, the ride quality is enhanced by the use of a front fork taken from a higher end bike.

The aero-profiled fork cuts through the air with ease and works hard to take the brunt of the vibrations that come from the rutted British roads.

At the back of the bike, the rear stays have been dropped away from the top tube in the same way as on Specialized’s race bikes, the intended merit being increased aerodynamics.

At times it was necessary to give the toptube a little tap and hear the tinny reply of aluminium rather than the dull echo of carbon, while at the same time recalling that is a £999 ‘entry-level’ bike not something worth three to four times more.

The bike handles superbly on the flat, gained my full confidence through corners on descents, and despite its slightly higher weight it climbs well too.

At 9kg it’s heavy but not hefty and the responsiveness of the bike does much to overcome the difference between this and 7kg climbing bikes.

So impressed was I with this bike that I would gladly add it to my own repertoire, a feeling furthered by the fact the frame comes with eyelets for mudguards, meaning it could quickly become an all-round ride once dressed for winter.

Although at the front it would need clip-ons as the high-end fork hasn’t been designed to take guards, while the now-recalled fork did come with the necessary eyelets.

Components

Nominally, the bike comes with a Shimano 105 groupset but it’s where it deviates from this that results are mixed.

Positive first: the chainset is provided by Praxis Works and no faults with its performance come to mind.

It works perfectly well with the Shimano chain and front mech, its plain matt black does nothing to draw attention away from the Red Hook frame’s paintjob and it nicely matches the black version of the Allez.

The front and rear derailleurs, chain and cassette are all Shimano 105, leaving just the brakes.

These are supplied by Tektro, and here’s the negative: their performance leaves a gulf between expectation and reality.

Descending behind a ride companion running the most recent previous version of Shimano Ultegra, we were forced into a sudden stop while descending on a winding, narrow lane in the Surrey Hills.

They came to a near immediate halt, unclipped and stood still, while behind I saw their rear wheel getting closer and closer to my front wheel as my brakes struggled to scrub away any of my speed.

I turned the bike out into the road, the rear wheel locked then I sideways-skidded to a halt just as my leg bumped the rear tyre of the rider in front.

Mix-and-match groupsets are common practice in the bicycle industry, it’s an obvious and easy way to drop costs and pass on the savings to consumers, hence having an otherwise excellent bike for under £1000.

But I would advise anyone buying this bike – which would be a good purchase – to get some Shimano 105 brakes on there right away, maybe even at the point of purchase at your local bike shop.

The additional cost will be worth every penny, and the buyer would still come away with a bargain of a bike.

Conclusion

An excellent bike that belies its low price tag; a machine capable of year round riding from sportives to long days out and even crit races. But check those brakes.

Specification

Specialized Allez Elite
Frame Specialized E5 Premium Aluminum, fully manipulated tubing w/ SmoothWelds, 1-1/8"- 1-3/8" tapered head tube, internal cable routing, threaded BB, 130mm spacing
Fork FACT carbon
Groupset Shimano 105
Brakes Tektro Axis
Chainset Praxis Works
Bars Specialized Shallow Drop, 6061, 70x125mm, 31.8mm clamp
Stem Specialized, 3D forged alloy, 4-bolt, 7-degree rise
Seatpost Alloy, 2-bolt clamp
Saddle Body Geometry Toupé Sport, steel rails, 143mm
Wheels DT R460, sealed cartridge hubs, 14g spokes, 24h rear, 20h front
Weight 9.00kg
Colours available Red Hook; Gloss Light Blue/Rocket Red; Satin Black/White Clean
Contact specialized.com

Page 1 of 2Specialized Allez Elite Red Hook review

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